Call it the battle of the park path. It's hard to enter Riverside Park at 72nd and Riverside Drive these days without witnessing some sort of confrontation between a dog walking pedestrian and a speeding cyclist. That's because near collisions between bike riders and pedestrians have become a common occurance, according to the Parks Department. It prompted the installation of signs a few weeks ago mandating bicyclists dismount their bikes as they walk through a heavily traveled path down to the river where there is a much larger bike path called the Waterfront Greenway. The problem is many cyclists have been ignoring the signs. It infuriates pedestrians like Judy Love of the Upper West Side who we saw confront the bikers.
"It's the law, you're supposed to dismount." She yelled at three cyclists riding past her. "The bicyclists just zoom past in packs with racing hats and if you say anything to them, as I have, they say lady get out of the way!"
Upper West Sider Sunny Mindel says she's been run over before,
"A biker coming down the ramp up at 84th Street hit me and knocked me into a steel fence."
The first public meeting on the matter was held Monday night by Community Board 7. Cyclists argued the rules are unfair. They say the signs went up without any public discussion or debate.
"It delegitimizes cyclists access to the park. This is, bare in mind, a city sanctioned bike path."
The Department of Transportation does list the path as a sanctioned bike route. What's unclear is if the Parks Department's regulation can override the DOT's designation.
Riverside Park Manager Christa Carmody said the signs were necessary, but said they were open to alternative suggestions. So far, she said, nothing else has worked.
"We have incidents almost weekly in the park with bike riders in general - admitedly it's not always their fault."
Bicyclists would like to see the park reconfigured so that they would have a designated path to the Greenway solely for bike riders. There is no plan for that at the moment.
In the meantime the signs are staying up and many of the cyclists are sailing right past them, they say, until the Parks Department comes up with a better plan.